Man versus machine

To throw or not to throw. That may not be ‘the question’ but it’s certainly one worth asking.

In this article we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of using a bowling machine versus providing a player with throw-downs.


Go into any self-respecting cricket academy and you’ll hear the whirr of bowling machines spitting out ball after ball. For the full-time coach the bowling machine has a number of benefits:

  1. Saves your shoulder
  2. Allows you to observe the player
  3. Delivers a high degree of accuracy
  4. Enables varied deliveries (spin, seam, fast, slow) which a coach may find hard to replicate

All good so far but there are draw-backs, the biggest one being that batsman don’t bat against machines. Batsman bat against bowlers and the visual cue they get from the bowler is critical to a batsman picking up line and length early.

For more on this have a read of Dr Ian Renshaw’s post in which he discusses the importance of young players seeing the ball out of the hand.


I’m not saying don’t use bowling machines but be aware of their drawbacks.

Because bowling machines are designed to repeat the same delivery batsmen will often know where the ball is going to land before it is delivered. Again unrealistic to a match situation. So either

  1. Make small alterations to the machine
  2. Put down 6-9 dots around the batting crease – the batsman has to move to another mark after each delivery


I’ll often see a 6ft something dad bowling hard balls to his 4ft, ten year old kid in the nets. How realistic is that? How often is that child going to be facing a 6ft ten year old, with the ball being released at that height? Hopefully never.

So mums and dads – get down on your knees and make sure you’re delivering the ball from a height that is appropriate and realistic for your child.



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